Ontario’s Southwest at its fun and delicious best – Haldimand County has some great beaches, fun outdoor activities and good food!
Less than two hours away from the Greater Toronto Area is Haldimand County, a county rich in agricultural heritage. The short scenic drive will take you through several quaint farmhouses, peaceful fields and lovely views.
We took a drive with the family on a beautiful Saturday, packed with gear for the beach and other activities. First, we stopped for lunch at Hippo’s Lake Erie Perch at Mohawk Marina. Located directly on the water in Lowbanks, this food-truck is a must-do stop in the area.
Hippo’s is run by Susan and Mike Walker, and obviously they’ve made a name for themselves as there were people waiting for it to open! It has a licensed lake-side patio too. The perch sandwich is an essential, as is the fish and chips. I had the gluten-free crispy chicken tenders with hand-cut fries – yum!
Then, we headed over to Rock Point Provincial Park, a great family-friendly spot with lovely beaches.
The park has two distinct waterfront areas: the first is their exposed fossils found in a limestone shelf along the water’s edge. You can explore the exposed fossils of a coral reef dating back to over 350 million years!
The second part of the waterfront is their kilometer long sand and pebble beach popular for swimming. It has a gradual decline, and allows for families to walk out for a distance.
Facilities are available onsite including washrooms and change room which are located in a convenient location. There is a general store onsite with souvenirs, some grocery items, hot food and ice cream! The boys enjoyed a refreshing ice cream from London Dairy Farms.
We then headed over to Dunnville, a small riverside town with a cute little downtown area. Our first stop was a quaint little coffee shop, The Minga. It’s a welcoming spot for visitors and acts as a coffee shop in the front, and a community centre in the back. They had delicious gluten-free coconut cream bars so I had to try one with my coffee.
The boys’ sweet tooth was calling! So we stopped into Sweet Retrospect, a shop specializing in retro candy and collectables. They also pop, flavour and bag over 20 gourmet popcorn flavours in store. Their most popular flavour is Chicago Style which they ran out of because it’s so popular! We left with two bags – Double Cheese/Bacon Pizza and Barbecue!
Just down the street is the popular Debb’s Cuisine on Queen. What a gem of a place! The restaurant’s chef, Debb, has a passion for local ingredients. The food is delicious! Their appetizers are killer; deep fried pickles, deep fried olives,
The boys enjoyed their chicken wings, saying it’s the one of the best they’ve tried – and they truly are chicken wing connoisseurs! I had the club on gluten-free bread which was also delicious. My husband had one of the daily specials – prime rib. They boys shared a carrot cake for dessert. We all agreed – we would actually drive back another time to Dunnville just to eat at Debb’s!
A few other family-friendly spots in Dunnville include the Dunnville Skate Park, and the Haldimand County Lions Pool – both free activities. Love fishing? Head over to Caledonia Bait & Tackle, a one stop shop for all things fishing. Make sure to fish on the Grand River.
Located just outside of Dunnville, Byng Island Conservation Area is another family friendly destination. You can rent canoes or kayaks for a very reasonable fee, and enjoy a two-acre pool, one of the largest in Ontario. It has a wading area, as well as a deeper zone with a diving board. Day use fees are typically $6 per adult, and $3 per child making this park very affordable.
More more information on Haldimand County, visit HaldimandCounty.ca!